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What's MACUSA? JK Rowling dishes on U.S. magic agency featured in 'Fantastic Beasts'

There’s more to learn before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters. Since we’ll see protagonist Newt Scamander clash with the U.S. equivalent of the U.K.’s Ministry of Magic, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has put together an introduction to the Magical Congress of the United State of America, otherwise known as MACUSA.

Rowling’s latest magical history lesson came in the form of writing on Pottermore and a new featurette. The latter provides a quick rundown on MACUSA, and how it comes into play in the movie, using clips from Fantastic Beasts and commentary from Rowling herself. Meanwhile, her Pottermore piece offers a more in-depth primer.

Exploring the wizarding world in North America is something that Rowling has been wanting to do for a long time. “After the Potter books, this was always where I was interested in going,” she says in the featurette. “If I ever did anything, this is what I wanted to do.”

She didn’t skimp on details. Her history of MACUSA touches on everything from the government’s origins to the Salem witch trials to its original 12 Aurors. It turns out there’s a Potter on the list — a very distant relation of Harry. That family must have fighting dark magic in its DNA.

In Fantastic Beasts, MACUSA will matter because Scamander will walk right into the governing body’s path — or, more accurately, he’ll actually pop up right in the middle of the magical congress. That will lead to interesting conflict.

“Magic developed very differently in America,” Rowling says. “He gets caught up into a society he doesn’t understand.”

It probably doesn’t help that Scamander accidentally releases rare magical creatures in New York, either. As a magizoologist, he has been on a journey studying a variety of species, and he has some in his luggage that manage to get loose. Not surprisingly, most governments — especially ones trying to abide by a Statute of Secrecy — frown on this kind of thing.

Scamander’s adventures will unfold when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens on November 18.

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